EPTA Conference 2017, England
‘What on Earth has Pentecost to do with the Church?’
This three-day conference at Regents Theological College, West Malvern, England was personally refreshing and deeply rewarding, both academically and in terms of networking. Academic papers and debate were interspersed with times of fellowship and prayer. As ever, there was a free afternoon for outings, and the weather was superb! Residential and day visitors joined together in making this the largest EPTA conference for several years. In particular, it was lovely to welcome as our guests a number of students of Regents Theological College.
The theme of the conference was ‘What on earth has Pentecost to do with the Church? Developments in Pentecostal Ecclesiology’. Academic papers were presented and debates held on church life, including its leadership and governance, and on church planting.
Something that delegates were sure to have taken away from the conference was a practical question: what am I, and what is the seminary or college where I learn or work, doing to make sure that church planting is taken seriously? Is church planting on the curriculum? Is it in our minds? Does it gain our attention?
EPTA Conference 2016, Bulgaria
‘The re-evangelisation of Europe’
We were hosted by BETC at the Hotel Festa in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was a well attended conference with helpful hosts and interesting papers – to be put into practice we trust.
EPTA Conference 2015, Italy
‘Transition and succession’
This was held 29 June -1 July 2015, at Richiesta near Florence, Italy. We stayed at the Seventh Day Adventist Institute [SDA]. We discussed the biblical, theological and practical aspects of leadership succession in colleges, churches and indeed tried to apply it to EPTA itself. We managed a little sightseeing one afternoon.
EPTA Conference 2014, Switzerland
‘Pentecostalism: an ecumenical challenge’
Venue: Gästehaus Kloster Bethanien
CH-6066 St. Niklausen, SWITZERLAND
EPCRA- invited EPTA members to St Nicklausen, in central Switzerland near Kern and Lucerne at Demanien – a Dominican convent which joined forces with a charismatic conference – Chemin Neuf, a charismatic ecumenical and evangelistic group. We met a variety of people beyond EPTA and it was a fascinating experience of ecumenical challenges – our theme for the conference.
Some of the conference papers were published in our Journal Spring edition 2015.
EPTA Conference 2013, England
‘Raising the next generation of Christian leaders for Pentecostal churches and outreach’
From 24-26 June 2013 we held our annual conference at Mattersey Hall.
Bob Houlihan, President of Southeastern University, Lakeland,Florida, our key speaker, provided two papers, one of which is now published in the Autumn [fall] issue of JEPTA, regarding education. See the same issue for other contributions.
EPTA Conference 2012, Portugal
We have had a good conference in Monte Esperance college, Portugal
See photos on Facebook’s EPTA page: EPTA Conference 2012 Lisbon
We discussed how to incorporate various aspects of being ‘missional’ into the theological educational institutions in which we work, into their curricula, into the way we relate to others and how we encourage our students to consider the world wide commission of Jesus to us all.
EPTA Conference 2010, England
‘Justice and Pentecostals’
To that end we heard papers from various speakers. Our Key note speaker was Joel Edwards now with the Micah Challenge International.
EPTA Statement on Pentecostals and Justice
Taken at the EPTA 2010 Conference held at Mattersey Hall College and Graduate School, England, July 9, 2010
On occasion of the 2010 conference of the European Pentecostal Theological Association the participants gathered at Mattersey Hall under the theme “Pentecostals and Justice”. Papers were presented and discussed after which the participants felt the need to produce the following statement.
We agree that our heritage as Pentecostals demonstrates a profound concern for works of mercy, justice and compassion for the poor and that the Full Gospel that we have historically proclaimed addresses the whole range of human need, be it spiritual, physical or social. However, we recognize that we have only of late rediscovered the implications of what that means in terms of our holistic mission to the world.
Although works of compassion have been a vital part of Pentecostal activities, we have historically been less vocal in addressing issues of justice for the oppressed and we have rarely championed the cause of the marginalized beyond giving them relief and immediate assistance. We are encouraged by reading early Pentecostal history to embrace a holistic mission of the church, in which evangelism and works of justice are inextricably linked.
We recognize that Scripture shows us that God is concerned for the welfare of humankind and that he has placed upon his people the responsibility to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Furthermore, we see that God requires us to advocate on behalf of those who have no voice and to “defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov. 31:8+9). We see the supreme expression of this concern of God in the proclamation of Jesus at the beginning of his ministry when he stated, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of God’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19). The early church continues this concern when it heeds the call to care for the poor (Gal. 2:10, 6:10), the widows (Acts 6:1ff.) and the orphans (James 1:27).
It is in the very nature of God to be compassionate and just. Therefore, as human beings created in the likeness of God, we also have the capacity to show mercy and to defend the cause of the deprived. In the life of Jesus this attitude is exemplified in his mission to the poor, the sick, the abandoned and the marginalised of his own day. The Holy Spirit empowers the church to realize this commission in word and deed, transforming people and communities to live with the vision of the inbreaking Kingdom of God and not to conform to the patterns of this world. We engage in this life style in order to advance the kingdom until Jesus comes to bring ultimate justice for all creation.
Thus we commit ourselves to speak up and act on behalf of the poor, to uphold human dignity, to stand against any form of discrimination, oppression, inequality and enslavement. Furthermore we are called to care for God’s creation, as it is a gift to all and not only to those who exercise power, oftentimes for their own interest.
We therefore wish to express our renewed commitment to the biblical call to justice, compassion and action for all of those who suffer under the yoke of poverty, injustice and exploitation.
To this end we dedicate ourselves to transparency and accountability to God and our fellow human beings for the common good. We want to build bridges of communication and cooperation for the just cause, acknowledging the work that has already been done by others. It is our personal desire to be in step with the Spirit (Gal.5:25).
We want to encourage our churches and agencies to join in this mandate to learn to do right, to seek justice, to encourage the oppressed, to defend the cause of the fatherless, and plead the case of the widow (Isa 1:17). We look forward to the time when there will be a new heaven and a new earth, when God will wipe every tear and there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain, for the old order of things will have passed away. (Rev. 21:1-4)
EPTA Executive 2010 = Rev. Dr Paul Alexander (Chair of EPTA & Principal of Mattersey Hall), Dr. Anne Dyer (Mattersey Hall, Mattersey UK), Rev. Dr. Carl Simpson (European Theological Seminary, Kniebis Germany), Rev. Dr. Ulrik & Carina Josefsson (Pentecostal Theological Seminary Sweden), Els Zegwaart (Vice Chair of EPTA, based at Azusa Theological Seminary), Dr. Carol Alexander (Mattersey Hall), Rev. Dr Kenneth J. Archer, PhD, Ordained Bishop, Church of God, Associate Professor of Theology, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland TN.
Conferees and members of EPTA: John Cooke (Bjärka-Säby, Sweden), Karl Inge (Ph.d Associate prof. At HLT The Norwegian School of Leadership and Theology, Norway), Connie & John L. Karsten, Dr Jean-Daniel Plüss (Chair of EPCRA), Lorna Singh of Word Ministries (based in Birmingham UK with international links), Richard E. Waldrop, D.Miss. Missionary Educator, Church of God World Missions, Rev Gabriel Yidana (AoG UK &Ghana).
Joel Edwards & Marijke Hoek (both Micah Challenge International)
Other EPTA members: Rev. Dr. Corneliu Constantineanu (Institutul Teologic Penticostal in Bucharest, Romania), Paul Elbert, (Adjunct Professor, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, Tennessee, USA). Dr. Samuel Lee, Foundation University in the Netherlands
Rev Dr Ken Chant (M.R.E., Ph.D) (Principal Emeritus, Vision Christian College Inc); Stan E. DeKoven, (Ph.D., MFT) (Founder and President, Vision International University: College and Graduate School, Vision International Education Network, Ramona, CA 92065 www.vision.edu)
Nico Horn Professor in Public Law, University of Namibia, Pentecostals for Peace, Namibia.
We request that all Pentecostal denominations institutions and other groups read it and if you agree with it, join in signing it [by sending an email to the secretary -see the contact page] and acting on it in your own areas! Let us know what you are doing in terms of Prophetic advocacy where you are!
What about joining the forum and blog conversation on this subject? Go to those pages and read on…!
EPTA Conference 2009, Germany
‘European Pentecostalism: the history, sociology and interaction of theologies’
Papers were presented on the following themes: Historiography (WK Kay), Scandinavian Pentecostal history (J-Å Alvarsson,), German Pentecostal history (C Simpson), Futures of Pentecostalism in Europe (R Pfister), Sociology of Pentecostalism (WK Kay), and Protestant reformed Europe’s theological interaction with Pentecostalism (J-D Plüss).
This completes a series of presentations concerning Pentecostal identity from history, theology and something of sociology which are to lead to two books (P van der Laan’s and W K Kay & A E Dyer’s European Pentecostalism).
EPTA Conference 2008, Slovakia
Complex Pentecostal Identities: Reflection on the EPTA-Conference at Senec, Slovakia, July 24-27, 2008, by Paul van der Laan
The theme chosen for the 2008 EPTA conference was “Pentecostal Identity”. In 2007 I proposed this theme because of my desire to perpetuate our heritage. The theme helped to provoke challenging discussions and helped us to reflect on the complexity of who we think we are. The format chosen for this conference, presentations followed by discussion in small groups culminating in a plenary deliberation on the topic, proved most helpful. Initially the term “Pentecostal distinctives” was frequently used, but as David Petts pointed out the word “distinctive” seems to indicate some exclusive qualities, where in fact most of our identity is shared with other denominations or parts of the larger body of Christ. Our identity is shaped by Roman Catholic mysticism, Reformed Biblicism, Pietistic lifestyle, Wesleyan holiness, Darbistic eschatology, Afro-American folk religion etc. etc. Indeed we are standing on the shoulders of many of our esteemed predecessors and we are inclusive rather then exclusive.
In his opening address Paul Alexander stressed the importance of developing a “hidden curriculum”, by which we could pursue our primary goals in our educational institutions. This enables us to prove the validity of our policies and create an atmosphere by which it will become widely acceptable in our own rank and file. The last section gave some helpful tools by which a missional hidden curriculum can be introduced and sustained. In the group discussion it was pointed out that in fact the “hidden curriculum” was our overriding purpose and for that reason cannot and should not be hidden. It is helpful however, certainly in our Pentecostal tradition, that we prove our point in real life before we have it approved by our constituency. By this we can develop our institutional program in such a way that it touches the very heart of what we consider to be the most prominent aspect of our identity.
In my presentation on our theological identity I tried to prove that all of the Pentecostal books that have been written until now on the topic of systematic theology have not searched to articulate our particular position. We have endeavoured to develop an evangelical theology with extra emphasis on Pentecostal topics like Spirit baptism and charismata. In recent years some have tried to present an ecumenical Pneumatology. No one however has tried to include our specific theological contribution. Do we not dare to do this? Are we having an identity crisis? I suggested that our theology should include testimonies, must be sustained by Scripture, have a prophetic voice and include the intercultural elements of our global Pentecostal family. The development of such a theology is a herculean task, but as Pentecostal scholars are emerging quite rapidly these days it can and must be done. It has the potential to bring about a paradigm-shift in how theology can be done and certainly will give a voice to our so far hidden identity. In the discussion it came to the fore that this approach is easier said then done. Collectively we were able to bring a lot more questions then answers. It demonstrated that we have just started to scratch the surface to discover our theological identity. A lot more reflection and discussion is needed to find some common ground in our mutual perception. The critique that was brought in helped me to realize that the characteristics mentioned above do not necessarily need to be presented in a specific order as long they are included in each topic. This does imply that I have to rewrite my completed chapters of the textbook for Pentecostal Theology I am writing, but as we say in Holland “it is better to turn back on your steps halfway then to be lost all together”. Ulrik Joseffson presented a thought-provoking paper on Spirituality. He noticed that we need to define and redefine what we mean if we use the term Pentecostal. Throughout the years this term is applied in many different ways. The same is true for the word “Spirituality”. It provides a holistic perspective on theology and needs to be experienced both personally and collectively. Our spiritual identity bears elements of our doctrines, our practices and our affections. If we do not separate these elements but approach them as a unity, spirituality can help us to understand what defines us as Pentecostals. In his response Raymond Pfister pointed out that Pentecostals tend to share their experience before they share their theology. They also wrongly define themselves by what they do, rather by what they are. This should be vice versa. Pentecostal spirituality should be looked at through the lenses of scripture, history and the contemporary context. At this point the conference probably reached its summit of confusion. Having arrived here we gazed at the beautiful panoramas around us. In this moment of utter amazement we all started to realize that at best we can only speak of various Pentecostal identities and spiritualities.
After we had reached this pinnacle of confusion and amazement, a necessary place for reflection and change, we now applied the conference theme to the more practical areas of our student life program and missions. Steven D. Jenkins presented the results of an extensive survey he had completed among students at Mattersey Hall Bible College with regards to the development of the Pentecostal identity in the course of their study. The statistics were most revealing and an eye-opener to all of us. It proved that we cannot take it for granted that students will grow in the use of spiritual gifts, just because they study at a Pentecostal institution. We need to be deliberate in our program to foster such a growth and demonstrate it by personal example. Students are eager to apply the spiritual gifts in their own life and ministry and become spiritually mature, but seem to miss the leadership and mentorship they had expected. In the group discussion it became apparent that most of our member institutions wrestle with the same challenge. The mutual exchange motivated us to devote more of our focus to this crucial part of our training.
It was appropriate that the last presentation dealt with one of the most characteristic elements of our Pentecostal identity: global missions. Pasi Parkkila exemplified in a power point presentation how the Iso Kirja College in Keuruu, Finland, maintains an extensive missions program. They offer a variety of educational programs for potential missionaries and work in close harmony with Fida International, the Finish Pentecostal missionary organization. In the open discussion that followed we agreed that Iso Kirja serves as a model of how an ideal missionary program can be set up and maintained. As we shared the various missionary programs of the member institutions, which were presented at this conference, it became evident that missions is still at the very heart of our raison d’être and certainly a focus we all share. Jukka Tuovinen, the director of the Iso Kirja missions program, gave us a profound insight in the practical elements by answering some of the questions I had prepared. Another Dutch expression is that one fool can ask more than ten wise men can answer. However, this one wise man responded to more then one Dutch fool could think of. This presentation was a fitting closure of a conference that forced us to look in our Pentecostal mirror. It brought us back to the fact that indeed the Holy Spirit is given to reach the world for Christ pending His parousia.
Pondering over the scenic lake of Senec I was reminded of the song of Jean Valjean in the musical Les Miserables entitled “Who am I?”. After he was released from prison Valjean had to take up a new identity and position to become acceptable by society. What about my (our) identity? Have we betrayed who we are to become acceptable by the Church and society or have we simple come of age? We certainly have grown but at what price? This conference has reassured me to search for my original birthright. Walking back to our “Pension Bat” I heard myself singing: Who am I? Who am I? I am … Pentecostal!
Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Amos Yong, Frank Macchia.